Right now, as you read this, we are living history. What we are experiencing is unprecedented – a global pandemic that has quickly and dramatically changed the way we live. All non-necessary businesses in the state of Maryland are now closed. People across the world are now living in social isolation in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. No one knows how long this will last or what will happen in the meantime. There are also questions about what the world will be like when this is over.
These are uncertain times, which is why I’ve chosen to look to the future because, at some point, things will change again. I find myself remembering high school and all the assignments that required interviewing grandparents about the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, and other historically significant events that happened before we were born. In time, young people will ask us about this experience. What was it like during the COVID-19 pandemic? How did people survive? What did we do during isolation and quarantines?
I imagine we’ll remember the hoarders and shortages of toilet paper. We’ll remember trying to stock our homes with enough food and supplies to last several weeks, and the empty shelves we found in every store because everybody else was trying to do the same thing. We’ll remember those who hoarded necessary supplies in order to gouge prices and turn this tragedy into a business, and how the internet collectively shamed and exposed such people.
I think we’ll remember feeling like we were living in a dystopian, science fiction reality. We’ll remember the urgency we felt as reports of chaos in Italy reached the United States, just as we began to see confirmed cases on our own soil. We’ll remember that there weren’t enough test kits and that this shortage meant we didn’t have an accurate assessment of the problems we were facing and that we had to constantly remind ourselves that every person we encounter in public could be a potential threat to our health and safety. We’re all in this together, but so much of that work requires being alone. What an interesting, paradoxical experience.
That’s what I find to be especially interesting about all this: we’re all going through the same thing, but we’re experiencing it differently. Some people are able to work from home; others have to venture out into public because their employment is deemed necessary. Some of us are (hopefully) temporarily unemployed. And again, no one knows how long this will last or what our lives will be like when this is over.
This is why I’ve chosen to look to the future. If we’re living history, we’re also writing history; I’d like my story to be a good one. In the future, when young people ask me about this, I’ll tell them about the toilet paper and canned goods and social unrest. I’ll also tell them how I used this mandatory “timeout” to make my life better. I’ll confess that I enjoyed being able to sleep in and how I now had the time to read all the books that have been accumulating on my bookshelf. I’ll show them the shawl I knitted with the luxurious baby alpaca yarn I’ve been hoarding for years, waiting for the right time and opportunity to make something beautiful. I’ll laugh as I tell them that my culinary friends gave me cooking lessons via FaceTime because I had no idea what to make with lentils and navy beans.
If we’re writing our history, let’s all do our part to make this a good chapter for the books. Let’s find ways of staying connected and taking care of one another, even if we can’t do so in person. If there’s a silver lining to this situation, it’s that this is taking place in the year 2020. Our technology and resources are allowing us to stay connected via the internet, which some could argue is keeping our society together.
We will always have choices to make as this situation unfolds. Let’s make good ones. One day this will be over and, when we look back on it, let’s be proud of the things we did and the ways we supported one another through this dark, unprecedented time. If we’re going to make history, let’s make sure it’s a good story.
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.